This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A busy night at City Hall

I arrived during the Board of Works Meeting on Monday night. Usually these meetings last only a few minutes and they mostly approve payment of bills. On Monday the meeting lasted past 7:00 as the police chief gave a number of awards. Two officers received recognition for years of service, one was promoted, two received awards for helping save lives in the Park View Apartment fire, and one for capturing a armed suspect. The police chief also gave an award to a civilian, John Barrett, for saving lives in the apartment fire. The mayor read a letter from a lady he saved. She had fallen unconscious in the stair well and after he carried her out of the building, she was flown to Lafayette to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. The Rensselaer Republican reported more details about these awards in their Tuesday edition.

The City Council meeting, which had a long agenda, started a few minutes late. It approved closing a section of Harrison Street for an Eagles fundraiser for the victims of the Park View Apartments fire. It then heard a report about the large elm across from the Post Office that is dying. It had been inspected by an expert from Purdue who said that the tree would be a hazard and needs to be removed.

A public hearing on the 2017 budget was opened but no member of the public spoke. There were two ordinances from the utility office, one approving a new company to handle credit and debit card payments and the other to extend the time before shutoff of service for nonpayment from ten to 14 days.

A number of items followed that involved the utilities. A 45-page bond ordinance prepared by the City's financial advisor was passed to prepare the way for a electrical substation at the intersection of Bunkum Road and CR 850W. A bit later another item was passed that allows Rensselaer to pay IMPA and NIPSCO for their part in this project, which will provide a second feed to the customers by the Interstate and also give Rensselaer a third connection to the grid.

The next part of the meeting considered bids. The small one was for a pickup truck for the electrical utility manager. The truck will release a car for use by employees for out-of-town travel. Five bids were received for a new garbage truck and they ranged from $144,694 to $173.991. Bids were also opened for street work. Two bids were for only part of the project but four were for all the work and they ranged from about $720K to$876K. The garbage truck and street bids will be reviewed by committees for recommendations.

The city attorney reported that all the paper work had been completed to transfer the Staddon Field property to the City via the Jasper Foundation. The Foundation had insisted that a provision be inserted that if the City ever stops using the property as a park, the Foundation has the right to purchase it for $10.

A discussion of the new well that is on SJC property followed. The city attorney recommended that the city accept the assessment done by SJC and enter into an option to purchase at that price. He said that the alternative, pursuing seizure with eminent domain, would probably be more expensive after all the legal bills were paid. The option to purchase will allow the City to pursue an OCRA grant next year. The project will be delayed a year. The motion passed with one opposed.

The Council heard a recommendation from a committee to hire an additional police dispatcher with funding coming from utilities. It was approved.

Next week the gas department will be making some repairs on the gas main attached to the Grace Street bridge. They will be using a bridge inspection lift to do the work. While they are working, the bridge will be closed to traffic, though if an emergency vehicle needs to use the bridge, there will be a lane open.

The assistant street superintendent announced that on Tuesday 150 cubic yards of concrete would be poured at the high rate treatment plant.

The Council ended the night by approving the hiring of a seasonal worker to help the sanitation department, which has some temporary staffing problems.

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